As Canton and Potsdam schools look at combining, professor says consolidation cost savings might not materialize
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 6:07 am

While local governments and schools districts such as Potsdam and Canton schools around the state consider consolidation, and the governor is pushing it as a cost-saving measure, a Cornell University professor isn’t so sure it will work.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget includes a plan to reduce property taxes and save money by encouraging consolidation of local governments, a proposition he has been promoting for a least a year.

The governor’s proposal includes monetary incentives that some municipalities are saying they would count on to make a consolidation pay off for the local government.

But Mildred E. Warner, an expert on local government restructuring and professor of city and regional planning, says that consolidation has its inherent benefits, but cost savings isn’t one of them.

She says that increased efficiency in government requires a better-trained and more professional workforce than what has been needed in the past.

“Will the governor's proposal of local government consolidation result in cost savings? Research suggests maybe not,” Warner said in a press release from the university.

“Cost savings from consolidation depends on economies of scale and level of professionalism. A 21st Century local government system may need to be at a larger scale than in the 19th Century. But with consolidation comes the need for greater professionalization, which is more costly. Effectiveness must be balanced against cost savings and local voice.”